Mercado de San Miguel

We blogged about the market in Barcelona which was a large central market with fresh fish, vegetables, fruit, etc. Looking for something similar, we went to the Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid:

We found something completely different. It is a tapas food court. But don’t think of the low-quality food courts in malls and airports. This stuff is top quality. You walk around and see a wide variety of delicious looking food, all available in small quantities for 2-4 euro. There are high tables, mostly stand-up, in the center. The glasses in this picture are filled with gazpacho:

Lots of beer and wine is consumed:

and “postres”:

We ate there twice. We could have eaten every meal there, there was so much variety. It was hard to decide what to have. What we did was have something that looked good and repeated that until we weren’t hungry any more.

And then we had churros dipped in thick hot chocolate:

Palacio de Cristal

Madrid has a wonderful, very large park, the Retiro. The park was once the exclusive domain of the Spanish royalty, but after Franco died the new king gave the park to the citizens of Madrid. As we walked through the park we came across, without knowing it was there, the Palacio de Cristal:


The lake has black swans:


Tragically Hip

When I tell people I’m from New Mexico the most common response is some variant of “Oh, I love Santa Fe”. Of course, I am from Albuquerque. Santa Fe has the hip image, a distinctive architecture, an identity. Albquerque is more of a mixing pot with lots of things. It is also a much bigger city.

I am familiar with this kind of competition, growing up in Los Angeles where San Francisco was the hip city and LA was the sprawling, all-inclusive metropolis.

It seems that Madrid and Barcelona have a similar relationship. In the US, at least, Barcelona has a much hipper image than Madrid. It has legendary night life, good restaurants, the whole Gaudi thing going for it, the Ramblas. Madrid is the workmanlike big city.

We felt the same way and so we were surprised when we liked staying in Madrid much better than Barcelona. Barcelona seemed like the busier, more touristy city. Madrid was surprisingly calm, with lots of small streets. It seemed more walkable than Barcelona.

Of course, Madrid wins the art competition hands down with three world-class, wonderful museums.

And you never know what to expect in the Plaza Mayor:

(We took the above in a hurry with Charlie’s iPod Touch camera and it was starting to get dark so, too bad, it came out a little blurry.)

Glass Elevators

The Museo de Reina Sophia in Madrid is in an old building. When they added elevators they did them on the outside. A nice engineering solution (no internal changes required) and pretty too:

with nice views:

Two banks of two elevators along this wall.

Another coastal walk

We walked along the coast past Port Lligat where the Dali house is. We wondered about the pink haze on the hillside in the distance.

Getting closer:

We found it was ice plant, clinging to the coast:

Then we came across a large man-made something in the water:

Charlie walked down these steps:

to get here:

Dali’s house

The artists always seem to live in the cool places. Dali lived in Cadaques, actually in the port just over the ridge, a 20 minute walk from Cadaques. He lived there with his wife Gala and lots of other artists who came to Cadaques to hang out with him. He bought some fishermen’s huts and expanded from there. This is the view of it from a boat as you come into the harbor:

Rick Steves said it was the best artist’s house tour he had been on so we took it. Here is the view from the ridge as you walk over from Cadaques:

This entry room had a stuffed bear and a basket of his trade-mark canes:

A cozy fire nook with shrinking chairs:

Views of the bay from most of the house:

The swans who lived in the pool:

were later stuffed:

His studio:

General weirdness:

Colorful decoration and couch we assume his models used:

Art showing his wife Gala with their swan:

Their bedroom:

And amazingly, 3 images of Wynette in Gala’s bathroom mirrors:

Summer dining room:



Cristo de la Basura (Christ of the Trash), that Dali made from an old boat, old roof tiles, cement blocks, and other discarded items, best seen from a viewing platform.


The pool:

By the pool:

Boat ride along the coast

We took an hour-long ride along the coast in what was advertised as Dali’s fishing boat. Gala was the name of Dali’s wife, as well as his boat.

Our boat man man spoke Calalan, Spanish and French but not much English:

We took the trip with a very nice French family:

The younger son was adorable:

We passed a natural arch under Cap Creuss, which is at the easternmost point of mainland Spain.

We passed several boats:

And to prove we were really there: